Avengers franchise. As with most modern superhero movies, this one feels less created than engineered, and you can see its readymade headline from space: Batman fights Superman, while Wonder Woman looks on in a skimpy outfit. Perry White just sold out three printings.
Now, I do not begrudge a business for trying to make money. To accuse
Warner Bros. of profiting off the quenchless thirst of Batman and
Superman's fanboys is to chastise a lion for mauling a gazelle. But
while the studio will view this film primarily as a savior to its
balance sheet, the question remains just what kind of movie it
is. And the answer, ironically enough, appears right there on the
campaign's promotional materials: It's a movie directed by Zack Snyder.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
10 Cloverfield Lane opens with a brisk, eerie prologue, a near-silent montage that finds Michelle—you guessed it—on the run. She's fleeing New Orleans after fighting with her fiancé—surely those reports on her car radio about rolling blackouts can't be important—and though she receives a conciliatory phone call from him (his voice belongs to Bradley Cooper), she isn't inclined to turn around. Instead, she keeps driving on a deserted two-lane road until WHAM! she's the victim of a sudden car crash. And I do mean sudden. The collision, which director Dan Trachtenberg brilliantly intercuts with the film's silent opening titles, is a heart-stopping moment, the kind that frays your nerves and rattles your bones. It is not the last time this sharp, merciless movie will provide a shock to your system.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
The surprising power of that message is initially obscured by the film's brisk setup and lively visuals. As the punny title suggests—this is presumably the first animated movie that will inspire parents to teach their children about the writings of Thomas More—Zootopia takes place in a universe populated by anthropomorphic animals who live in apparent harmony. Our heroine is Judy Hops (Ginnifer Goodwin), a perky bunny rabbit with big ears and a bigger heart who aspires to become the metropolis's first cotton-tailed police officer. Judy may be small in stature, but her will is indomitable, and what she lacks in size she compensates for with quickness and guile. That's an awfully familiar trope, and Judy's quest for self-fulfillment results in the predictable recitation of trite platitudes found so often in children's literature. Be yourself! Never give up! Follow your dreams!
Thursday, March 3, 2016
The Witch, which takes place in the 17th century, purports to base its tale of literal and allegorical horror on actual period sources. To that end, the characters speak largely in early-modern English, which means there are a great many thous, haths, and dosts. (Even the film's marketing materials get in on the act, treating the title's W as consecutive V's.) This requires a small act of translation on the part of the audience—not unlike when listening to Shakespeare, you have to actively puzzle out the characters' speech, rather than simply absorbing it. This assumes that you can hear it; the film's sound design picks up the rustling of branches and the bleating of animals, often compelling you to strain your ears to comprehend every flavorful morsel of colonial argot.